Royal Birkdale Golf Club

Course News

This page is designed to keep members up to date with plans for project work this winter and other projects that are in the pipeline.

The Green Committee along with the Course Manager has set out a winter programme for 2020 / 21. The main objective of the programme is to start the process of clearing the scrub areas of the course as well as carrying out drainage works and bunker renovation. As with all Winter Programmes, the weather will play a part and objectives may change, however, this document will be kept up to date to ensure members are fully informed. The scrub work is recommended by an ecology report produced by the Sports Turf Research Institute we received this year. (comments where appropriate in italic)

Additional Areas

The Green Committee conducted a course walk on Saturday and were very pleased with the progress so far. The clearance of the scrub has opened up several areas where the intention is to restore back to grass-covered dunes with the occasional sand scrape. This will not only enhance the aesthetic views of the course it's also excellent for wildlife diversity.

The greenkeeping team will:

  • Remove the scrub from on the back of the 14th green
  • Remove the scrub from the back of the 10th tees
  • Remove the stand of gorse on the left of the 18th 

This will improve the view from the clubhouse once the dunes have a more natural appearance.  The gorse to the right of the 7th green will also be removed.

After the storms in January and early February, several areas of the course have flooded. However; all the drains are clear and water is leaving the course. No more storms would be very welcome.

As with all areas where large scale scrub is removed the site will look a little bare until we either plant duneland grasses or they grow back naturally.

Below is the original winter program agreed last year. In addition to these works, the greenkeeping team have also removed a significant amount of scrub on the 2nd hole, behind the 8th green, behind the 9th green and the left of the 15th hole as well as tidied up the carries on all holes on the course.

Scrub Works

The aim is to remove small tree saplings and bushes from the course areas seen by members, from green complexes to tees, around tees and fairway edges. This work will predominantly be carried out in house by the greenkeeping team. In addition to the smaller scrub removal, other invasive trees will be removed either in house and/or by using external contractors. 

A full list of works:  

Area 1:   Pines right of 3rd medal tee.  Remove - TASK COMPLETED

Area 2:  Area of trees left of 6th fairway carry comprising pines and poplar.  Clear fell -  TASK COMPLETED

Area 3:   Pines and poplars on top of banking left of 5th fairway.  Remove single pines. Prune poplar branches rubbing on 5th soil store -  TASK COMPLETED

Area 4: Leaning trees to the right of the 5th hole to be removed/thinned -  TASK COMPLETED

Area 5:   Area of gorse in front of 9th tees.  Remove 10-metre strip left of red shale path. Remove gorse in front of the red tee/right of 8th green -  TASK COMPLETED

Ecology Report  - I understand that the larger tract of gorse just right of the 8th green is being considered for removal, this I feel would be acceptable it would reinstate a more visible sandhill without losing the influence of the gorse which would remain to the back left and back right. 

Area 6: Tree on the dogleg corner of the 10th hole. Remove -  TASK COMPLETED

Area 7:   Area of mixed trees and scrub right of 15th carry.  Remove sufficient scrub and white poplar to give a clear view of the red tee from the medal tee -  TASK COMPLETED

Ecology Report  - Standing on the right side of the 15th tees I noted the outward encroaching white poplar which is starting to affect sightlines through the hole, consideration could be given to reducing this by at least 4-6 m first one to two runs to improve sightlines, although given the lack of ecological value of the poplar and its ability to sucker it would clearly be beneficial to remove the stand in its entirety. 

Area 8:   Two single Hawthorn trees located on the 15th hole beyond the pair of right-side drive bunkers. Remove -  TASK COMPLETED

Ecology Report - The two sentinel hawthorns to the right of the fairway just beyond the first right-hand-drive bunkers stand out and are relatively incongruous walking the hole they do affect the otherwise open nature (balance) of the hole. Given the importance of the underlying grassland and the effect these trees are having I certainly will have no objection to their removal. 

Area 9:   Area of gorse in front of 18th medal tee.  Height of gorse now prevents a view of the beginning of the fairway from the medal tee.  Remove most of the gorse whilst leaving strips of gorse either side of the path from the medal tee -  TASK COMPLETED

Area 10:   Pine trees either side of 18th medal tee.  Remove -  TASK COMPLETED

Area 11:   Single pine tree against the fence on 18th approximately 120 yards from the green.  Remove -  TASK COMPLETED

Ecology Report - The 18th was viewed from the Championship tees – see picture.  Note encroaching pine left and right of the tee, degenerate gorse to left, the small sea buckthorn front right and the dominate gorse running through the carry.  Standing on the tee it is clear that the fairway is being compromised by the large stand of gorse to the front of the carry, the tree to the left of the tee is becoming quite oppressive, back to the right has been damaged and cut and is unlikely to fully recover. My recommendation through the 18th would be to remove both trees in their entirety, this would allow for the coppicing and regrading of the gorse left of the tees and for removal of the small sea buckthorn stand front right of the tee. The hawthorn running through the left side of the carry together with the white poplar should be removed in its entirety, this will open up and help reinstate the dune grassland condition through the carry. The large dominant block of gorse in front of the carry should be removed in its entirety, all surface brash should be scraped, roots should be removed and the entire area would be brought back to a clean open sand scrape. Some block planting of dune grassland turf could be introduced to create a natural and varied effect. The view through the 18th would be significantly improved given this  work, particularly  given the elevated nature of the tee and how the area would be viewed. Remove the majority of associated scrub left of the carry. 

Area 12: Dune by putting green. Sea Buckthorn and Gorse to be removed. We understand ashes have been scattered here in the past and the area will be treated with sensitivity - TASK COMPLETED - Marram Grass will be planted at the appropriate time.

Bunker Renovation & Other Turfing Works

Bunker Renovation - All below tasks completed

Other Turfing Works

1st green left side

1 bunker at drive length left side of 3

Front left of 4

6th fairway, first bunker on left side

11th fairway, first bunker on left side

13th fairway, 3rd bunker on right side

16th fairway, 2 bunkers on right side

17th approach, bunker on left side

18th fairway, bunker on left side 155 yards from the green

18th fairway, bunker on right side 170 yards from the green

1 practice bunker

Various small patches around bunkers - Ongoing

Various small patches on paths - Completed

Returf path to 3rd white tee - will require sprinklers to be installed

Widen path to 4th green tee -  Completed

Widen path over hill right of 5th green

Returf path over hill left 6th approach - will require sprinklers to be installed

Returf path to old 7th champ tee -   Completed

Rebuild 7th blue tee - install irrigation -  Completed

Relocate 9th blue tee to right side next to the sprinkler -  Completed

Improve path short left of 10th green -  Completed

Level path between 11th intermediate championship tee and white tee

Drainage works:

Area 1: Install connections from existing drains to various areas of standing water on 6th fairway -  TASK COMPLETED

Area 2: Replace old drain on 15th fairway from the ditch on the right side to cross bunkers -  TASK COMPLETED

Area 3: Install drain from ditch right of 17th hole to hollow on 17th approach and to bunker on the front right of the green -  TASK COMPLETED

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